By TUNJI WAHAB
A faith-based organization, Zakat and Sadaqat Foundation (ZSF), has rewarded winners of the second edition of its Entrepreneurship Development Project (EDP) with N15m as reward for outstanding business ideas.
Eight persons emerged as the overall winners in the empowerment programme tagged “Business Plan Competition (BPC),” and the presentation of prizes and plaques was held at the Westwood Hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos.
According to ZSF Operations Manager, Mallam Ahmed Ma’aruf, the initiative was tailored towards empowering young Nigerians with business ideas either at conceptual level known as “Idea Track” or transitional stage known as “Business Growth”.
The Foundation’s Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Prince Sulayman Olagunju said the BPC is an aspect of ZSF Entrepreneurship Development Project (EDP) embarked upon last year with a view to bringing together business-minded Nigerian youths to compete and showcase their creative ideas and business plans.
Olagunju said N15 million was expended on the competition.
“It is no longer news that the economic hardship being experienced by Nigerians which has been worsened by increase in youth unemployment, security challenges across the country and the high cost of living confronting the Nigerian youths can be effectively eradicated by designing and implementing appropriate entrepreneurial programmes to engage them productively. Olagunji explained.
The Foundation boss added that the EDP was also meant to empower the Nigerian youths with adequate seed capital just as he appreciated the role of Nigerian youths in nation building
According to him, the tree we planted together just one year ago, has grown up favourably and it has started yielding beneficial fruits that gave us more impetus to continue this competition despite low sponsorship.
“The number of participants increased from 128 last year to 165 this year. This increase in number of participants made our consultant and his team to spend more time in screening the participants. The consultant and of experts did a marvellous job to produce the winners we are rewarding today.
“Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, please join me in congratulating all the winners and the finalists present here today. They have indeed performed very well and all of them deserved to be commended and rewarded handsomely. However, due to low sponsorship received, we shall be rewarding the winners as follows: the 1st position in the Growth Track will go home with the sum of N1.5Million, the 2nd position with N1 million, the 3rd position with N750,000 and 4th position with 500,000. The 1st 2nd 3rd and 4th winners in the Idea Track category will go home with the sum of N1million, N750,000, N500,000 and N250,000 respectively. All the remaining finalists shall go home with consolatory prizes of N100,000 each.”
Prince Olagunju urged all the beneficiaries to use the fund provided by the foundation judiciously to take their businesses to the next level as a demonstration of competence and confidence repose in them by the team of experts.
Chairman on the occasion, Ambassador Adamu Babagida Ibrahim said there is no better time to encourage the ZSF noble and lofty project than now.
Ibrahim said: “Therefore, Zakat and Sadaqat Foundation’s intervention at this auspicious time is a welcome development that should be supported by well-meaning individuals and corporate citizens in order to complement the efforts of government in the delivery of socio economic welfare services to the less privileged Nigerian youths.
“I commend the board and management team of Zakat and Sadaqat Foundation for encouraging the Nigerian youths to be job creators and not job seekers. The practical steps taken by the foundation is a testimony of its commitment and passion to empower the Nigerian youths through the window of its entrepreneurship development project code-named business plan competition. You will agree with me that this one way developing the Nigerian youths as well as contributing to the socio economic development of the country.
“I am equally filled with joy to know that not only the finalists will be rewarded with prizes and certificates of participation but all the runner-up contestants will also be appreciated financially by the foundations as a way of encouraging them to do better in the years ahead.”
He implored well to do Muslims and non-Muslims to “support the entrepreneurship initiative so that individually and collectively, we move the Nigerian project forward.”